Here’s your go-to guide to speaking and understanding Korean. This is going to give you a brief overview of everything you need to know. Just follow each section, pick the parts you want to focus on, and go as deep as you’d like.
Just be warned, you might learn Korean faster than you expected! ^^
Korean Language Overview
The Korean language is spoken by over 70 million people worldwide. There are different versions of the language for South Korea and North Korea.
There are different dialects for the 사투리 (satoori) 6 regions of the country. 서울말 (Seoul dialect) is the standard, and 제주말 (Jeju dialect) is the most unique.
In this writeup, we’ll be focusing on the Seoul dialect. Once you have that down, you can branch out and start learning some bonus colloquial words to your repertoire.
The Korean Alphabet (Hangeul)
The Korean Alphabet (한글 | Hangeul) is one of the simplest alphabets to learn, even if you are an absolute beginner. You can learn it in a few hours, and be reading Korean sentences on the same day.
We provide a free guide that will teach you how to read the Korean Alphabet in only 90 minutes using visual associations and stories. It’s based on psychology so you will be sure to remember what you learned!
This is probably the most critical step for making any progress with learning Korean. Spent the 90 minutes learning to read Korean, and you’ll learn the rest of the language must faster. This will also help you speak Korean since the pronunciation of Hangeul is much more precise than the romanized version (한글 vs. Hangeul, for instance)
The Magical Words Known as Konglish
There are a number of words that come from English and other languages. They’re also called “loan words”, but we think Konglish sounds more fun (Korean + English = Konglish).
Here’s an example of Konglish:
커피 (kupi) = coffee
See how 커피 (kupi) sounds like “coffee”?
You already know more Korean than you thought! =)
We’ve got the full list of Konglish for you. Start with these words since they’ll already be familiar to you. Simply read them aloud and see if you can recognize them. Easy game!
Typing in Korean
If you know how to type in English without looking at the keyboard, then it’s fairly easy to learn to type in Korean.
You can get a Korean keyboard for your desktop, or just get stickers to put over them. If you’re a true typing warrior, try downloading an image of the Korean keyboard layout, and look at it as you type.
It’s a piece of cake to grab to get a keyboard on your smartphone or tablet, just head over to your settings and add one in. You’ll be typing in Korean in no time!
Korean Language Dictionary
There are tons of them out there, but we’re a big fan of the Naver dictionary. This is the most popular dictionary for native Koreans when they are learning other languages. There is pronunciation for many of the words if you click on the blue speaker near the words.
You can use Naver’s Papago for translations, but don’t rely on it. It’s best to use as a backup as you’re learning Korean.
Apps for Learning Korean
There are a lot of apps for learning Korean, but it’s best to choose the essentials first. Naver Dictionary is in app form, so that’s an excellent one to grab first.
Anki is also a fantastic app for making custom flashcards. It’s useful for boosting your vocabulary skills whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
KakaoTalk is the main chat app for Korea. If you want to make Korean friends or up your Korean typing skills, then this is the app to get!
Here are the apps you need for living or traveling to Korea.
Get a Korean Name
If you really want to immerse yourself in Korean culture, then make sure you get yourself a Korean name!
Typically people get their Korean name by one of these methods:
- Write your name in Korean letters
- Random name generator
- Chose a name from a list
- Find a Korean name that sounds like your name
- Pick a name with special meaning
- Get a Korean name chosen by professionals
We’ve got a complete guide on it, find out how to choose your very own Korean name.
There are two numbering systems in Korean. They are called the China System (Sino-Korean) and the Korea System (Native Korean).
The China System is very structured, so you can learn to count to a billion by learning less than 20 words.
Pretty cool, right?
The Korea System takes a bit more time to learn, so we recommend starting with the China System first.
We’ve got a complete Korean numbers guide, so head there if you wanted to level up your number skills. For now, here are the numbers 1- 10:
|Numeral||China System (Sino-Korean)||Korea System (Native Korean)|
Korean Vocabulary Words
As you learn Korean, you’re definitely going to want to level up your vocabulary skills. Here is a list of the most common Korean words. Start with these first.
If your native language is English, it can be challenging because there isn’t a great deal of overlap with words (beside Konglish).
There are some great strategies for this if you use associations, mnemonics, and stories for the words. For example, the word for “house” in Korean is 집 (jip). The words “house” and “jip” sound very different from each other. However, the word “jip” sounds like “Jeep”, so you can make a story using imagery about it.
If you like this method, check out our free guide called How to Remember Korean Words Easily.
If you want to level up your skills quickly, then it’s good to learn these phrases first. These are expressions that you’re going to hear all the time, so it’s easy to become familiar to them.
Then, as you continue to develop your language learning skills, you’ll be able to break down these phrases and understand what native speakers are saying.
|Don’t mention it||천만에요||cheonmaneyo|
|Excuse me (to get attention)||저기요||jeogiyo|
|Excuse me (to apologize)||실례합니다||sillyehamnida|
|Excuse me (to pass someone)||잠시만요||jamsimanyo|
|Hello (on phone)||여보세요||yeoboseyo|
|Sleep well||잘 자요||jal jayo|
|Sweet dreams||좋은 꿈 꿔요||joeun kkum kkwoyo|
|Goodbye (to person leaving)||안녕히 가세요||annyeonghi gaseyo|
|Goodbye (to person staying)||안녕히 계세요||annyeonghi gyeseyo|
|Get home safely||잘 가요||jal gayo|
|Have a nice day||좋은 하루 보내세요||joeun haru bonaeseyo|
|Just a moment!||잠깐만요!||jamkkanmanyo!|
We have an online Korean course that will teach you how to understand these phrases. In the first 90 days, you’ll learn how to have a 3-minute conversation in Korean. If you want to continue to an advanced level, we can help you with that, too. It’s 100% online, structured, and go at your own pace.